This is one of the nicest times of the year to visit your market. Strolling up and down the aisles your eye will be caught by the crown jewels of the season: our fresh Maryland strawberries. My first instincts are for strawberries and ice cream with shortcake, but Chef Jerry Pellegrino tells me, we don't have to go for sweet dessert dishes all the time. Strawberries can go savory too.
First of all, we should be aware that the best Maryland strawberries are usually on the smaller side. The big golf ball sized berries may look impressive, but that patch of white under the stem tells you that they will not be as tasty as you'd expect. Look for the smaller berries, about the size of a finger tip, deep red all over, and with a gorgeous aroma. In fact, buying by smell is nearly foolproof.
In preparing salads one rule of thumb applies: you can use strawberries wherever you would use tomatoes. It works! And speaking of salads, here is a lovely vinaigrette featuring strawberries.
8 ounces strawberries, tops removed and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Blend strawberries, honey, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper together in a blender until smooth. Store in a closed jar in the fridge.
To take the point one step further, here's Jerry's strawberry based BBQ sauce, a condiment ordinarily dominated by tomatoes.
4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
½ cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Zest and juice from one lemon
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Process strawberries, chili sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, minced garlic, brown sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper in a food processor until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds.